Government calls out cheaters who booked United mistake fares

I’ve kept a polite distance from the latest fare-error scandal, even though readers were asking me to get involved. Something smelled wrong about those $50 first-class transatlantic tickets on United Airlines that were briefly available earlier this month.

Then again, maybe it was the character — or should I say the lack of character — of the bloggers who were urging their followers to snatch up the fares, that made me hesitate. Hackers are criminals and the people who help them are their accomplices.

Why won’t United Airlines honor its fare guarantee?

Digital Media Pro / Shutterstock.com
Digital Media Pro / Shutterstock.com
Chuck Barnes tries to invoke United Airlines’ low fare guarantee. But it doesn’t quite work the way he hoped it would. Is he out of luck?

Question: I made a reservation on United’s website from Tampa to San Francisco for a total price of $180. After completing the reservation I looked up the same itinerary on Orbitz. Much to my surprise, it was $10 less than the price I had just paid on United.com.

United offers a low-fare guarantee. I read the low fare guarantee page to confirm that it covered my fare discrepancy and then I called the United reservations number. The agent I spoke with was polite, but insisted that I had to find the lower fare online at United.com only — Orbitz did not qualify.

“Unbundling” is a brazen lie and it’s time for the travel industry to come clean

McAuley/Shutterstock
McAuley/Shutterstock
It’s been five short years since the airline industry, led by an ailing American Airlines, quietly stripped the ability to check your first bag at no extra cost from the price of an airline ticket — an act given the antiseptic name “unbundling.”

At about this time in 2008, passengers were beginning to adjust to a new reality, as other airlines eagerly joined in separating their luggage fees from base fares. Now, they’ve finally accepted the fee revolution, according to most experts.

An airline ticket doesn’t have to include a “free” bag or a meal, no more than a hotel room should come with the ability to use the hotel’s exercise facilities, or your rental should cover the cost of a license plate. And that’s the way it should be, they say.

Well, the experts are full of it.

Should I help passengers with their United Airlines “zero” fares?

Anatoliy Lukich / Shutterstock.com
Anatoliy Lukich / Shutterstock.com

At 2:47 p.m. today, I received the first email from reader Nancy O’Neill. She wanted to know if a “zero” fare she’d just found on the United Airlines website would be honored. I’m sure it won’t be the last one.

O’Neill already felt a little beat up by United’s incomprehensible fare rules. She was trying to make a change to a flight from Houston to Louisville, but the $200 change fee would eat most of the value of her ticket.

“I decided to look at canceling my entire trip and just booking one way return from Louisville to Houston,” she says.

“Apparently with Carnival, the passenger does not always come first”

carnival destinyKristen Hernandez thought she’d found a bargain on the Carnival Breeze next month. Or, to be more precise, she thought her travel agent had found one.

She booked two separate balcony cabins for her 8-night Eastern Caribbean cruise for $3,440 each.

Turns out she and her travel agent were wrong.

“After researching the Internet, we found out that Carnival Cruise Lines had slashed the prices due to the fact of the many mishaps,” she says. “Yesterday I went online on the Carnival website and found out that the balcony cabins are now selling for $2,319. That is a difference of over $1,100 per cabin.”

Southwest’s Laraba says booking glitch “neither the experience nor the impression we hope to leave with our customers”

At this hour, the likely culprit in this weekend’s Southwest Airlines fare-sale drama is a faulty database, which triggered an excess of 10,000 double-bookings. You’ve read the horror stories. I asked Teresa Laraba, the airline’s senior vice president for customers, to explain what went wrong and what customers should do if they’re affected.

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